Living with diabetes blog

Diabetes: Get the most from every stick

By Sara J. Carlson, R.N., C.D.E. January 14, 2015

You probably wonder often whether your glucose results are accurate or your meter is working properly.

When testing your blood glucose at home, consider these tips to obtain the most accurate results:

  • Check the expiration date on your test strips. If the test strips have expired, results could be inaccurate. Throw expired strips away, including unopened containers that have expired. Store test strips in their original packaging at room temperature. Avoid storing in areas of high humidity.
  • Wash, rinse and dry your hands before testing. Alcohol, lotion, food or other substances on the testing site could alter the results.
  • The most accurate and current results can be obtained by using blood drawn from the finger. If you are experiencing hypoglycemia, be sure to use your finger rather than an alternative site.
  • It is more comfortable to prick the side rather than the tip of the finger.
  • If you have trouble obtaining an adequate amount of blood for testing, try the following techniques to prepare the site before using the lancet. Use warm rather than cold water when washing your hands. Hold your hand below your heart and "milk" your finger starting at the palm. If using an alternative site, massage the site to increase circulation in that area.
  • To ensure the accuracy of your meter, apply one of the following quality control measures: Follow the manufacturer's guidelines to perform an accuracy test using the control solution which is specific to your meter. Perform a control test when you open a new container of test strips or when your monitoring results are higher or lower than expected.

Compare your meter results with a laboratory analysis. To compare results using this method, check your blood glucose within 10 minutes of the time it is drawn by the laboratory technician. There should be no more than 15 percent difference when comparing the laboratory result with that obtained from your meter.

Using the blood glucose monitoring results, you and your health care team can decide how to adjust your treatment to better control your diabetes.

Please share your experiences with testing at home.

Wishing you well,


Jan. 14, 2015